I am Lorraine. In the canary yellow dress and petticoat. I've come home from work to place the crumpled brown bag of groceries on the kitchen table. Soft like taffy. Malleable. Imprinted. Easy to upset. Adept at verbal cues and emotional nuances. A hand on the hip. A swift change in the cadence of your voice. I am stirred by everything you do. And everything you don't.
She is T. Drapped in deep green. The color of the stormy sea. She is hard candy. Brutally honest. Disconnected. Jagged rocks for hands. When I arrive, she buttons her tongue to the inside of her cheek. She does not have the language to talk to me, the easily bruised bird. We exchange pleasantries. Talk in between. In spaces. Safe ground. And after we make love, I am empty inside.
And so our lives played out like that. For years. Resentment growing like mold on Monday's leftover pot roast. She hated me for my bruising. Not knowing that I bruise because I am alive. All those things denied to her.
But then one day, I remembered the end of the story. The story of Lorraine and T. Lorraine, intent on proving her independence to T, left in the middle of the night to go alone. I remember T smoking a cigarette, waiting on the couch for hours for Lorraine to return. But Lorraine never came home. And when T heard the ambulance screaming, she ran out of the house to find the neighbors gathered around. T panicked and ran to Lorraine. But it was too late. Nothing would ever be the same.
It read like a cautionary tale. I could no longer be Lorraine. Spending the rest of my life masking for T. Spinning myself into her. Closed and afraid. And then, acting out in tiny moments of desperation, in oh so dangerous ways.
In forgiveness of her, in forgiveness of self, I etched the word "grace" on the inside of my wrist with a ballpoint pen and walked out of the door.